Is the BBC pogonophobic? Jeremy Paxman's beard raises a hairy issue

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman's new beard continued to trend on Twitter last night as the broadcaster accused the BBC of "pogonophobia" (fear of beards).

The journalist's hirsute appearance first drew attention on Monday night. And after a storm of reaction on social networking sites and in newspapers, Mr Paxman, 63, said that many at the BBC are pogonophobic, but that it was up to him whether he would revert back to his usual appearance or not.

He said: "I have grown a beard for the last few summers, and suddenly wondered whether I really needed to shave it off to present Newsnight.

"Unless you're lucky enough to be Uncle Albert on Only Fools And Horses, Demis Roussos or Abu Hamza, the BBC is generally as pogonophobic as the late-lamented Albanian dictator, Enver Hoxha.

"I may keep it or I may shave it off, but I think I'll make my own decision."

After Paxman accused the BBC of shunning on-screen beards, his former Newsnight colleague Martha Kearney broadcast an exchange which she had with Paxman which made him "sound a touch pogonophobic himself".

Kearney aired the conversation, which took place when she was a correspondent on Newsnight in 1997, on Radio 4 show World At One.

Paxman asked Kearney: "Why has he put Frank Dobson in charge of health, which he thinks allegedly is so important?"

When Kearney replied that it was because of Dobson's record in the shadow cabinet, Paxman replied: "But he's got a beard."

Kearney said that the exchange "completely left me for words".

Radio broadcaster Robin Lustig, a beard of the year winner, said that the BBC was pogonophobic.

"On TV, yes definitely, the evidence is there. There's no bearded current affairs presenter," he said.

"Michael Buerk once was told to shave off his beard if he wanted to carry on presenting.

"I did a little bit of television and I was told (by an external consultant) if I seriously wanted to do more I would have to get rid of my beard."

Facial hair recently became popular but Lustig said that Paxman might be behind the times, telling World At One: "I'm told that beards are no longer in fashion."

However, Paxman's beard provoked far less serious comment on Twitter.

Paxman's BBC colleague Emily Maitlis tweeted: "Right that's it. I'm working on a moustache for Thursday's Newsnight".

Crime writer Ian Rankin, who wrote: "It is 1973 and I'm really digging the new album by Paxman's Beard."

Classicist and BBC presenter Mary Beard wrote: "Blimey, I've been away for four days and while I have been away Jeremy Paxman has grown a beard!"

Comedian Jenny Eclair said: "I like Paxman's beard, looks like he might ride a Harley come the weekend."

Presenter Kirstie Allsopp wrote: "Paxo with a beard is like me going blonde, there are just some things that are not meant to be."

Comedian Al Murray wrote: "Not seen the Paxman beard or the Perseids (meteor shower). Feel so, so alone."

BBC radio presenter Shelagh Fogarty said: "Mr Paxman's beard proving it isn't just women's appearance on TV that people obsess about. Will it be kitten heels tomorrow?"

Broadcaster Danny Baker said: "I really do not think Jeremy Paxman should be granted a beard. It's corrupt. Disney had it right. Hey BBC - no news beards."

He added: "Do you think a single person in the news room had the balls to say 'Hey Jeremy. The beard. You look f***ing ridiculous'."

Newsnight economics editor Paul Mason wrote: "The rumour is they are screentesting for Tom Bombadil in the third Peter Jackson Hobbit movie".

ITV news presenter Alastair Stewart wrote of the University Challenge star's appearance: "Chilling to think how many readers/viewers just might not get the 'Paxman-beard-Newsnight' thing. Nor find it funny. Nor care. 'Nuff said."

Others compared Paxman's appearance to Father Christmas or Ben Fogle stranded on a desert island.

The BBC has recently come under fire for under-representing women. But of its male workforce a surprisingly small number sport regular facial hair.

Among the rare exceptions are Paul Hollywood, of the Great British Bake Off , and Si King and Dave Myers aka The Hairy Bikers Cafe.

Additional reporting from PA

Here is our selection of some brilliant beards:

Doctor Who actor David Tennant with a neat beard Doctor Who actor David Tennant with a neat beard   Brian Blessed who is just as well known for his beard as he is for his booming voice Brian Blessed who is just as well known for his beard as he is for his booming voice

Billy Connolly opts for a smart moustache and beard combination Billy Connolly opts for a smart moustache and beard combination that matches his long grey hair

Peter Capaldi sports an interesting moustache and goatee combination Scottish actor Peter Capaldi, the new Doctor, sports an interesting moustache and goatee combination

Richard Branson's beard and hairstyle are part of his public personality (Getty Images) Richard Branson's beard and hairstyle are part of his public personality  

Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US